Chapter 2:

More than a classmate

My 2D Idol Is My 3D Girlfriend

Despite my best efforts, the day followed in the most mundane of ways. The familiarity of being tired come lunch, followed by overwhelming drowsiness. The girl that was nowhere to be seen, taken by the arm by a group of friends before I could even raise an arm for a goodbye. When classes were over, I was ready to head home and check what that Momo-chan was all about, with hopes of having found a new friend with whom to share interests. But before all of that could become a reality, I got hit by a surge of cold water that whispered "Basketball" in my ear. And it was quite the jump scare.

That was not the first time I regretted joining the club, even if I somewhat enjoyed it. High highs and low lows is how it felt. I knew that for the most part, the lows were of my own doing, exactly like today. "Next week surely I'll rest the night before", I think I've promised myself that a dozen times – yet to yield any success. As I was coming to realize, filling up my schedule by peer pressure was not the best idea I had ever agreed to...

After a deep breath, I reached for my phone and began typing while I made my way toward the exit:

"I'm sorry, senpai, I'm feeling sick today and need to get good rest for the classes tomorrow, as well as homework. I'll be here next time, promise."

And that was it. Now the only internal conflict sparking my anxiety would be checking the notifications, rolling the dice of whether it would be the cheerful Aoki or the disappointed senpai. Considering the odds, it would probably be senpai noticing I'm late, rather than Aoki who could be lost in her own activities. Attending to her own club schedule, running errands, or going out and having fun with her friends – the same friends I saw earlier, perhaps. Normally I wouldn't admit that I felt jealous, but since I quickly became ashamed of myself, I can admit it. To really get over it, I sandwiched my cheeks with his hands and shook off the negative emotions.

The sun was still up in the sky when I got home, which would never be the case had I gone to basketball practice, except for those hot summer days that made any practice very uncomfortable, to begin with. It looked like I was the first one home. Not wanting to be the one to cook dinner, I (shamefully) ran to the kitchen and grabbed a can of orange juice and microwaved some leftover meatballs as a snack, and took it all with me to my bedroom.

I think I had about five different things swirling inside my head that I wanted to do before bed, but despite all that, decided to browse on my phone. "Until I finish eating" sounds just like "I'll rest the night before club", doesn't it?

When I woke up the phone, I braced for the message notification. To my surprise, all I found back was "Rest well today and let's show who's boss next week". Not a word from Aoki, though... Back to my artist socials, I got my daily ego boost by taking note of the influx of new likes and comments.

That is until I woke up with a beep on his phone. Woke up? That's weird... But checking my phone left no doubts about it. It was almost 8 pm, so not only had I napped for a couple of hours, but my parents were likely already home, and dinner had come and gone. I sluggishly shifted his body, aching all over from falling asleep in the most awkward position – over my arms and holding the phone. The brightness of the screen stung my eyes, but I couldn't resist checking after the beep. This time, it was Aoki. No message, only a long link to Momo-chan's livestream.

As soon as I clicked it, the video immediately started playing. She was responding to her chat over a paused game screen, and the chat scrolled faster than I could read. She was a cute VTuber like many others I had seen before. Her avatar had fluffy animal ears, and a peachy color scheme, fit for the "Momo" in her name. Her voice was cute and high-pitched, so much so that I felt compelled to hastily reach for the volume-down button before my parents could hear it from outside the room.

I think I stayed like that watching the stream for about half an hour, this time managing to stay awake. As time passed, I was getting more into it, and soon enough I subscribed to her channel, so as not to miss the next livestream. In a weird way, I was enjoying watching her die to the same enemies over and over in some obscure platformer that I never heard of. She raged but was a good sport about it, clearly playing it up to entertain her viewers.

At some point, though, I heard reality calling for my name and remembered that I actually had to go and do the things that I postponed just the day before. Going downstairs, my parents nestled together on the couch. Dad watched TV and mom browsed her phone.

"Hi." At that point, I was just hoping I wouldn't be reprimanded.

They both turned at me, no angry expressions to be found anywhere, which was at the very least a good sign.

"You were sleeping like a baby up there, I couldn't bring myself to wake you up for dinner... But we left some for you." My mom pointed towards the kitchen counter.

"Ah, thanks. Sleeping wasn't my goal, but..."

"But the day has 24 hours, doesn't it?" Dad said as if laughing at his own joke. "So a good night of sleep was the first one that got axed..." I noticed him raising an eyebrow as I walked toward the kitchen.

"That was my bad..."

Mom went back to her phone, and my dad continued.

"Just... don't sacrifice school for it." His voice softened.

I paused to look back at my dad in the living room.

"Yeah, I know. Sorry."

He winked once and moved his attention back to the TV, to some mountain-climbing show that I had absolutely no idea what it was about.

"Yuina Aoki". My finger hovered over her name in the chat before I committed. "Hey, thanks. I actually checked it out and ended up watching quite a bit longer than I anticipated."

I was almost finished eating when my phone lit up, and I rushed to the chat – who else could it be?

"I told you! How long did you even watch her for?"

"Two hours. But that's because I fell asleep to her voice..."

She replied with a sticker of a chibi Momo laughing. It looked amateurish, but it was frankly very endearing.

"She always starts her stream around that time, after school. So we can catch the entire thing too, it's convenient!"

"My homework diligence is threatened even further." I laughed while typing, and shook my head as if she was here to see it.

She replied with another Momo sticker that said "You can do it!"

Somewhat unfortunately, nothing interesting happened after that, and boredom settled back in. I ended up painfully dragging my body back to the bedroom to face a few days' worth of homework, really hoping to finish before 10 pm and go straight to bed, and finally have proper sleep. It might've been a far-fetched dream, but I can at least say that I tried, right?

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